On the Front Foot: Can Pietersen's tale of lawyers, runs and money end happily?
With each passing match in the World Twenty20, the situation becomes more preposterous. England play and there to comment on their failings is their erstwhile colleague Kevin Pietersen.
His presence at the tournament, albeit holed up in a studio miles from the action, grows ever more embarrassing for both parties. Pietersen is said to be doing well as a pundit but he is there only because of his dispute with the England and Wales Cricket Board, which precludes him from playing.
Talks between the sides are continuing, though nobody is spilling any beans. Lawyers are definitely involved, which is always a bad sign, though how far they will go is unknown. Suggestions that Pietersen could bring a case of unfair dismissal if the issue does not end in his favour can be equally dismissed. Pietersen has gone to the law before, seeking an injunction after he fell out at Nottinghamshire with the county captain, Jason Gallian. But to appeal to the courts now would be to risk laundering dirty linen in public. What fun it would be to have all those dressing-room secrets exposed as player after subpoenaed player told stories of life with Pietersen. The consensus among former captains and players is that they should all get on with it and Pietersen should play again soon. The longer it continues, the more unlikely this becomes. If they are having to work out forms of words about who apologises for what and who can say what to whom in future – and above all precisely how long Pietersen can play in the Indian Premier League – then it cannot be worth it.
Things anyway will never be the same. Pietersen, however, ain't daft. Each England defeat does him good. He is no different from any other player in that regard: you always look a better cricketer when you are not in the team.
Heroic Harry P
Harry Pilling died last week. To schoolboys of a certain generation, he was the only little wizard that mattered, long before another Harry P arrived.
Never in with a shout of playing for England – the nearest he came was an overseas tour with an International XI to Pakistan early in 1971 on which, as it happens, he was out hit wicket for the only time in his career – he still achieved legendary status. This was partly because of his lack of height. At 5ft 3in he looked too short to be a professional. He looked like one of us. But it was also because county cricket was different back then. It bred heroes in a way that could not happen now. And Harry played in an outstanding Lancashire side. When they won the Gillette Cup for the first of three successive occasions in 1970 the team contained six Test players. But it was Pilling who won the match award for an innings of 70. Throughout the late Sixties and Seventies the perusal of the scoreboards always involved seeing how Harry had done. His death is a pertinent reminder of what county cricket used to be.
Taufel will be missed
At the age of 41, Simon Taufel has quit as an international umpire. The World Twenty20 will be his last engagement. Taufel was umpire of the year five times in a row (though not for the past three) and changed the face of umpiring. He embraced technological change and realised the importance of getting to know players and how they performed by attending net sessions. His departure is sad but understandable. The life of an international umpire is a gruelling one. Expect more retirements in future with umpires near their peak.
Champagne super over
Whatever else the World Twenty20 has shown us so far (not much) it is that the Super Over should be used in all limited-overs cricket. If it is artificial then so, in many ways, is the game that has just preceded it. It is more realistic than soccer's penalty shoot and terribly exciting.
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